Florida Panthers 2013-2014 NHL Season Preview and Predictions
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After a disastrous lockout shortened season the Florida Panthers will look to surprise some people this year. The problem with that is they really didn't get any better in the offseason, still don't have a sure thing in goal, and don't have much to help support their young kids.
Jonathan Huberdeau was fantastic last year in his rookie season, potting 14 goals and 31 points for an awful hockey club while playing in all 48 games. The 20 year old is a star in the making but he can't do everything himself. The loss of Stephen Weiss will be felt, and the Panthers will need a lot of production out of Kris Versteeg, Tomas Fleischmann, Scottie Upshall, and some other veteran players. There just isn't that dynamic player outside of Huberdeau, and he's still just a kid. Florida could be playing in a lot of high scoring, fast paced games like last year, but unfortunately for them with no defense or goaltending you usually end up on the losing side of those.
Brian Campbell, Erik Gudbranson, and Dmitry Kulikov give the Panthers a semi-credible group of defenseman, but with Ed Jovanoski on his last legs and plays like Mike Weaver, Colby Robak, and Matt Gilroy things still look pretty bleak. If you're going to be a team with some liabilities on defense, you better be able to score a bunch of goals or have an elite goaltender. The Florida Panthers don't have either of those.
Jacob Markstrom posted just a .901 save percentage last season with a 3.22 goals against average. You just can't win in the NHL putting up numbers like that, and Markstrom proved that with an 8-14-1 record. Not that he has much help around him but the Swedish goalie will need to really elevate his game if the Panthers are going to be competitve this year. Scott Clemmensen continues as the backup but the Panthers just don't have what it takes to be competitive right now.